Matt Kenseth Wins at Pocono!

31 July - 2 August, 2015, Long Pond, Pennsylvania USA Matt Kenseth, Dollar General Toyota Camry (20) celebrates in victory lane. ©2015, John Harrelson / NKP

Matt Kenseth continued Joe Gibbs Racing’s winning ways with a thrilling last lap victory in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway. It was another strong day for JGR with all four teams racing a majority of the day inside the top 10, but it would come down to fuel mileage over the final couple of laps and Kenseth proved to have just enough to claim the checkered flag. This was JGR’s fourth consecutive win and fifth out of the last six.

Meanwhile Kyle Busch, who was attempting to win his fourth straight race, would run out of fuel from the lead on the final lap and finished 21st. Denny Hamlin also ran out of fuel before finishing 22nd and Carl Edwards pitted for fuel with two laps to go ensuring him enough to earn a 10th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the seventh position and held a spot in the top 10 through the early going. Today’s race saw several early cautions which led to several different pit strategies. The Dollar General Camry would maintain a spot inside the top 10 throughout the first half of the race and he patiently worked his way inside the top five at the halfway point. He would lead a lap during a round of green flag pit stops on lap 88. Kenseth was up to fourth with 20 laps remaining. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would call for Kenseth to bring the Dollar General Camry down pit road on lap 124, which was one lap later than the others in the top five. That proved to be a big factor as that one lap and Kenseth’s ability to save fuel allowed him to race all the way to the finish. When his teammate Busch in the 18 ran out of gas on the final lap Kenseth was able to make the pass and pick up his second win of the season in dramatic fashion.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota in the eighth position but dropped back on the initial restart to run 11th when the day’s first caution came out just five laps in. Today’s race saw several early cautions resulting in a number of different pit strategies. However Edwards kept his No. 19 Camry inside the top 10 throughout the first half of the race. He was running ninth with 20 laps to go. The race would come down to fuel mileage with the majority of the leaders pitting with 37 laps remaining. With no late cautions to help stretch the fuel to the end many teams would fall short before the finish. Crew chief Darian Grubb would make the call for Edwards to bring the 19 down pit road for a splash of gas that enabled him to race to a 10th-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota from the pole and led the opening 16 laps of the race before crew chief Adam Stevens made the call to pit on lap 17 during a competition caution. Several other teams made the decision to remain out on the track and Busch was 11th for the restart on lap 20. However it wouldn’t take long for him to work his way back inside the top five and Busch was running second at the halfway point. He would continue to run second as the laps ticked off to the finish and when the leader ran out of gas with more than two laps remaining the No. 18 would assume the lead. Busch would attempt to extend his fuel run to the finish and nearly pulled it off for his fourth straight win. Unfortunately he would fall just half a lap short and was scored 21st at the finish. He still managed to make up points on 30th place which he needs to be inside to solidify his position in the Chase for the NASCAR Championship. He is currently 13 points out of 30th.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota from the 11th position and was able to race inside the top ten before an early caution just five laps into the race. Several early cautions resulted in a number of different pit strategies but Hamlin was able to race his way into the top five and even led two laps during a round of green flag pit stops. He was running third at the halfway mark despite reporting some issues while attempting to shift. Hamlin was running sixth with 20 laps to go. With no late cautions it would come down to fuel mileage and the FedEx Office Camry, like many others in the top 10, would fall just a bit short. Hamlin would officially finish 22nd.

Kenseth captured the win and was followed by Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions on the afternoon for a total of 32 laps and 18 lead changes among 13 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Watkins Glen International next Sunday, August 9 for the second road course test of the season. NBCSN will broadcast the race live with coverage starting at 1 PM ET (race begins at 2 PM ET).